Low Fat Sausages

Making low fat sausages is more complicated and requires some intelligent planning. Keep in mind that the government permits our processors to use a lot of fat, for example, a fresh sausage can contain 50% of fat. Italian fresh sausage is healthier as it can have only 35% fat. These figures are good news for a home based sausage maker as he can easily beat them and by using 20-30% fat, he will create a great sausage. We understand that people with health problems may want to eat a healthier sausage even if this will affect the texture of it. Using no fat at all makes little sense as you will be limited to pork loins and lean cuts of ham. It will be wiser to cook entire loins or make formed hams.

In order to make a quality sausage from lean meat, only the best pork trimmings should be selected. The most tender pork trimmings come from loin, back fat, belly, butt and picnic. Fat is instrumental in providing a pleasant mouth feel in meat products. This feel will decrease in a low fat sausage, but it can be compensated by adding potato starch, which is known to contribute to a smooth mouth feel in meat products.

Meat selection. This is the crucial step and use your own judgement. This step starts when you choose meat in a supermarket. Select lean meat such as loin, ham, pork butt and lean beef. Don’t buy other cuts such as picnic or fat trimmings, unless you plan on making different types of sausages. Keep in mind that such cuts as loin or ham cost more and your sausage will not be cost effective. Because you made it for yourself, it becomes a specialty product now and the cost is justified.

Non fat dry milk powder can bind water and is often used in making sausages, including fermented types. Dry milk powder contains sugar and is used in fermented sausages as a source of food for lactic acid producing bacteria. Dry milk powder greatly improves the taste of low fat sausages. Non fat dry milk powder is a good natural product and it does not affect the flavor of the product. It is added at about 3% and effectively binds water and emulsifies fats. Its action is very similar to that of soy protein concentrate.

Head cheese or a nicer word for it would be meat jelly, will make a great low fat product. Although a traditional head cheese was made with parts such as pork head meat, skins and pork trimmings, most home made head cheeses are made with meats commonly available in a supermarket. You can choose two methods:

  1. If you choose making meat jelly the traditional way, you need meat cuts that are rich in collagen tissue. Buy pork picnic which is very inexpensive, remove the skin, cut the picnic into smaller pieces and simmer for 2-3 hours. Use enough water just to cover the meat otherwise your gelatin will be too thin and will not solidify. You can boil the skin separately. Pig feet are also a very rich source of collagen. After meat is cooked, but still warm, select lean pieces for meat jelly and discard any fat trimmings as you are going to make low fat jelly.
  2. Clarify your stock by filtering it through 2-3 layers of cheese cloth. This removes fat and leaves you with a protein rich source of gelatin.
  3. Place lean meats in a container or in a large casing. You can add ready made diced ham pieces that are available in all supermarkets. Then carefully pour your gelatin which will set and become jelly.
  4. You can simplify the entire process by using commercially made powdered gelatin. This eliminates making and filtering meat stock. This way you can use any lean meat such as chicken breast or fish and fill the container with gelatin.
  5. With a bit of practice and clever decorations made from boiled eggs, sliced pickles, peppers, oranges, carrots, scallions or parsley, you can create wonderful low fat meat jellies or head cheeses.

Orafti® Fat Replacements

Beneo - Orafti®, the Belgian company has pioneered and patented the use of inulin, a dietary fibre extracted from chicory roots, as a fat replacer. When mixed with water, it results in a creamy structure which can easily be incorporated into foods to replace fat and provide a smooth fatty mouthfeel and a well-balanced round flavor. Orafti® inulin and Orafti® oligofructose come from the chicory plant and as such have been part of our diet for generations. They are not digested in the stomach or small intestine, and so reach the large intestine intact, where they stimulate the growth of our beneficial bifidus bacteria. This means that our digestive system is healthier and our whole body benefits. Orafti® inulin and Orafti® oligofructose can also be used to replace fat in all water based products or to replace sugar in combination with intense sweeteners in most food products.

These ingredients will therefore allow food manufacturers to market well-balanced products without any compromise on taste and texture in order to enjoy these as much as the regular ones without feeling guilty. In meat products mostly Orafti®HP is used. Due to the binding ability of Orafti®HP with water and its synergy with hydrocolloids, the overall concentration of hydrocolloids can be reduced. Orafti® is used as a partial fat replacer that immobilizes water in a particle gel network. Frankfurter sausages were produced by replacing 17% pork fat with the same percentage of different combinations (4-8%) of Orafti®HP and water. Products of good quality were produced. They were evaluated on sensorial and physical characteristics.

It was obvious that Orafti®HP, added in the above-mentioned concentrations, gave frankfurter sausages a good consistency and a good taste, without any after-taste or off-flavor.

Liver sausages were produced by replacing a part of 30% fat with the same percentage of different combinations of lean meat, Orafti®HP and water, resulting in a 10% fat product. The products were compared with each other and with a positive reference. Orafti® has a bland, clean taste and therefore it did not change the flavour of the liver sausages. Orafti® had no negative influence on the color, moreover an improvement of the color of the liver sausage has been noticed when using Orafti®. In liver sausages, using a reference product containing 30% fat, it was shown that a 10% fat product with good quality was obtained with a Orafti®HP dosage between 5 and 7.5%. Lower concentrations of Orafti®HP give a softer product.

A large study has been conducted on the use of inulin in salami. Several tests have been conducted using Orafti®HP in combination with insoluble fibres (oat fibre). The aim was to improve texture and mouthfeel in fat reduced salamis (from 35% fat to 13% fat). The texture was significantly improved through the combination of oat fibre and 4% Orafti®HP. Due to the neutral taste of inulin, no off-flavors were detected.

There are Orafti® distributors in the USA, but at the time of this writing (May, 2010) Orafti®HP is not carried by the online distributors of sausage making equipment and supplies, although it can be obtained in 44 lbs. bags from Orafti® distributor. It does not need to be kept refrigerated. For more information visit: www.beneo-orafti.com

Adding Fillers

Adding fillers such as rice, potatoes, barley, rusk, non fat dry milk will increase the sausage mass and will make it accordingly less fat.